USA provides role-model to help mums with drug problems

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A family outreach worker from Edinburgh visited the USA to learn about how to support mums come off drugs while continuing to look after their babies

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3rd April 2018 by Susan Smith 0 Comments

Mums and pregnant women with drug problems should be given access to residential recovery programs, a Scottish charity worker has said following a study trip to the USA.

Lyndsay Fraser Robertson, a family outreach worker from Edinburgh, spent six weeks in the USA last year conducting research for her report on how to keep families affected by substance use together.

She won a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship in partnership with the Dulverton Trust to carry out the research.

Through working for Circle, a charity supporting disadvantaged children and families across Scotland, Lyndsay has encountered many families who have struggled to succeed in their recovery from substance use within the current system.

Through her Churchill Fellowship, Lyndsay wanted to explore alternative ways to help mothers with drug problems.

“Mothers present with a different set of needs to single male substance users and this is not always acknowledged in community drug treatment services,” she said. “I wanted to visit services that kept mothers and their children together safely”.

While in the USA, Lyndsay spent time in Washington State and Connecticut, visiting hospital-based services, residential recovery services and community visiting services. She also spoke with several academics in the field whilst at Yale University’s Child Study Centre.

Lyndsay was impressed by residential services that allowed mothers and their children to stay together, observing that they allow mothers time to recover and practice healthy coping skills in a safe, stable and supervised environment. Intensive parenting interventions can be provided alongside treatment.

She said: “Allowing mother and child to maintain a positive attachment to each other will influence how the child goes on to form other attachments in their life. The UK would benefit from more integrated substance use treatment with family support services”.

Now back in the UK, Lyndsay has already begun presenting findings from her Churchill Fellowship to networks in her local area and she has been asked to present at conferences across the UK.

Circle is committed to exploring funding to implement recommendations from her report later this year.